Since the earthquake and ensuing crisis in Haiti, I felt like I should be writing something about our collective responsibility to take action. I haven’t until now partly because I didn’t think I could add anything new, partly because it felt more appropriate to just be quiet, and partly because governments, international aid organizations, citizens, and corporations seem to have all gotten behind this in a remarkable way.
However, I would like to contribute one example of a company that’s doing the right thing. My family is scheduled to go on a cruise in March. The cruise line is Royal Caribbean and one of the places we’ll be visiting is a small town in Haiti called Labadee. Even before the earthquake, I felt that going to Haiti didn’t feel the right thing to do and was planning to stay on the ship. In the last week, it seemed even more inappropriate. I kept looking at Royal Caribbean’s web site hoping to see that they had changed the itinerary to eliminate Haiti. There wasn’t a response until yesterday.
It turns out that Royal Caribbean is one of Haitis largest foreign investors and will contribute more than $1 million in humanitarian relief as well as providing goods and supplies to Haiti via their cruise ships. The cruise line’s decision to continue regular cruise stops at its private resort at Labadee, Haiti, came after considering how Haitian residents and cruise passengers would be affected.
“It was not a tough decision once we established that Labadee was not affected by the earthquake,” Adam M. Goldstein, president and chief executive of the Royal Caribbean International unit, said. “We can take advantage of the opportunity to provide Haiti with supplies and to provide economic activity.”
In addition to working with Food for the Poor to distribute relief supplies, guests sailing onboard Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises will be able to make a donation to Food for the Poor’s Haiti Relief Fund, via a charge to their onboard account. Royal Caribbean also plans to use a portion of the $1 million donation to augment the company’s Crew Relief Fund, which can be drawn on by any of the company’s more than 200 Haitian crew members for assistance, as well as to match employee contributions to the partner organizations.
Royal Caribbean’s use of its ships to bring aid to Haiti is a good example of how companies should look for every opportunity to leverage existing operations. Beyond that, the company’s financial contribution seems appropriate and appears genuine.